NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — It is one of the hottest and most controversial political races in the state — and it’s only a primary.
It’s also the only congressional seat in New York City held by a Republican, and both men claim they best represent the views of President Donald Trump.
CBS2 political reporter Marcia Kramer has more on the mano a mano contest for a seat that covers Staten Island and parts of Brooklyn.
It’s a race between Rep. Daniel Donovan and his predecessor, Michael Grimm, or, as many Staten Islanders see it, the former prosecutor versus the formerly prosecuted.
One woman explained to Kramer on Wednesday why she’s pulling for Donovan.
“Because Grimm is a felon,” she said.
Another person defended Grimm, saying “he got a raw deal.”
It is an intense and heated race. There’s no love lost on either side.
“My opponent is a confessed liar,” Donovan said. “The judge who sentenced him said his moral compass needs readjustment.”
Grimm dismisses Donovan as a “wet noodle personality,” adding, “He’s not gonna show up when a water pipe breaks in your basement.”
Donovan, the former district attorney, and Grimm, who had to resign his seat after pleading guilty to tax fraud, also argue about who is the most “Trumpian.”
Grimm says Donovan abandoned the president on key issues.
“My opponent has voted down the line against the president,” Grimm said.
“I voted with the president 90 percent of the time. I voted with my community 100 percent of the time,” Donovan said.
One area where they disagree is Donovan’s decision to vote against the president’s tax cut plan, because it capped property tax deductions at $10,000.
“The president understood that that wasn’t enough. He respected my standing up for the people whose voice I am down here,” Donovan said.
“He’s saying he did it for Staten Island … 94 percent of Staten Island got a tax cut. They actually saved money,” Grimm said.
Grimm is currently ahead in the polls, 47 percent to 37 percent, according to a recent Siena College poll (margin of error, plus or minus 4.3 percent).
President Trump recently endorsed Donovan. The endorsement may or may not be a factor. CBS2’s Kramer spoke to one man who said he’s leaning towards Donovan.
Kramer: “Will the fact that the president endorsed Donovan play a role?”
“Yes it does. Honestly, yes it does,” Pat Timoney said.
Kramer then spoke to Walt Meichenbaum, who said Trump’s endorsement of Donovan doesn’t matter.
“He’s not representing me at the moment,” Meichenbaum said. “One of those two will and the one I want is Grimm.”
The congressional primary is set for June 26, so there’s less than three weeks until there could be a momentous decision on Staten Island.
The winner of the Donovan-Grimm race still has to run in the general election in November against the winner of the Democratic primary. There are about half a dozen candidates vying for that spot.